Monday, January 4, 2010

VBS Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Our church only uses the King James Version of the Bible. Which VBS programs can we use?
A: The following VBS programs are available in KJV:
  • Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari (This 2009 VBS is still available.)
  • Hero Headquarters lists references only. It does not actually have the verses written out, and there are Bible Verse Posters available additionally in KJV.
  • The Preschool All-in-One Kit lists all memory verses in KJV first, followed by the NIV. Simply cover the NIV verse or cut it off before copying your student sheets.
  • Regular Baptist Press also carries a VBS program in KJV.
Q: When is the Returns Deadline for VBS material?
A: Shop VBS closes on July 31, and this is our VBS returns deadline. If you have a late VBS and need to return some items, call us at 800-854-1531 and we can work with you. Please note that some items are non-returnable, and are clearly marked on our website.
Q: Can I return opened packages of product for partial credit?
A: Because we receive product prepackaged from our vendors, we are unable to process returns of opened or partially used packages. If you do find yourself with a few extras, use them as special gift surprises for Sunday school, for siblings of students, or for those who couldn't attend VBS.
Q: I’ve never done VBS before. What should I do first?
A: Dig into the Starter Kit(s) you’re interested in. Order more than one at Shop VBS...we offer a 30-day risk-free review on Starter Kits. Explore all the cool stuff, then find the Director’s Guide. This will give you the big picture of the theme, all the possibilities, and the activities that are included. Most Director’s Guides include a step-by-step planning calendar and training helps, too. Above all, decide what you want to accomplish in your VBS program: What do you want the kids to walk away with? Focus on that first!
Q: Can I use a VBS program in something other than a five-day format?
A: Most VBS programs nowadays are flexible. The Director Manuals contain different format options, including weekday mornings, weekday evenings, midweek clubs, day camp, Sunday mornings, or weekend retreats. If a specific program’s Director Manual does not contain these formats…improvise! Many options allow for the whole family to be involved.
Q: How do I figure out a budget for VBS?
A: The catalog for each program can help you plan your budget and choose the resources that will work best for you. (Remember to order early, as some items have limited quantities.)
If your church has had a VBS in the past, look at the registration numbers. Set a goal for how many kids you would like to reach this year. Then, using the catalog, write down the cost of each item you need and tally the cost. Visit Shop VBS to see VBS catalogs and online order forms from a number of publishers.
Find out what funds, if any, have been designated in the church budget. Determine if you will have a per-child registration fee to cover some costs. Make a wish list and work in conjunction with church staff to brainstorm ideas for additional funding (special offerings, fund-raisers, etc.).
You can even network with other local churches who are offering the same program this year and creatively collaborate for sharing some materials and resources.
Q: Do any of the VBS programs provide resources to guide children to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior?
A: Yes. Most of the VBS programs include helps for explaining the gospel message to children and counseling them about salvation.
  • Gospel Light has booklets to introduce children to Jesus Christ (God Loves You Evangelism Booklet) as well as booklets for children who are growing in Christ (Growing As God's Child Discipleship Booklets).
  • The Preschool All-in-One Kit has a section for the leader about "Leading a Young Child to Christ."
  • Wildwood Forest Director's Guide has reproducible resources to send home with a child who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior during your VBS. All Leader's Guides for this program have information on leading a child to Christ. Days 3 and 5 focus specifically on salvation lessons.
Q: What if our space is limited or we don't have enough kids or leaders for VBS?
A: Talk with other area churches about hosting VBS jointly. In addition to increasing the number of kids and volunteers, cooperative VBS programs are great ecumenical opportunities in your community. Cooperative VBS programs often lead to future events among different churches that can strengthen individual congregations and the entire community.
Q: What’s the best way to do VBS—Classroom-based or Site-based?
A: The way that works best for you! There are plenty of fun options in every VBS program.
Most programs can be set up as Classroom-based or Site-based. This means you can group kids by ages or grades to learn and interact in individual classrooms with teams of teachers and assistants (Classroom-based). Or you can group kids by ages or grades into small crews that move from site to site with their backyard crew guides (Site-based). Other VBS programs give the option of combining mixed ages of kids into one group (either Classroom- or Site-based). Some programs are not as easy to adjust one way or the other, so make sure you review your Director’s Guide before planning!
Q: How can we adapt a site-based model to a classroom model?
A: This may be easier for some programs than others. The steps outlined here are for general use of the classroom model. Modify them as needed.
  1. Determine how you will group your kids. The easiest way is to have one group per age/grade level. Recruit staff based on the number of Small Groups you anticipate. You'll need one Guide for each Small Group, as well as a Worship Leader, and other support staff as needed.
  2. Assign classroom space for each Small Group.
  3. Determine your large group gathering space(s) for the Opening and Closing times.
  4. Order your Leader and Student Resources
Q: How can our VBS program support faith formation at home?
A: Many student books feature a family activity for each day, and even if they don't, most kids like to share what they did at VBS with their families.
  • Including Adults and/or youth allows parents and teens to study the same Bible texts as the kids attending Vacation Bible School, either in their own small groups or at home.
  • Souvenirs, such as memory buddies, help the student to remember the Bible point and Bible memory verse for each day of VBS.
  • Giving each child a CD of the music from VBS helps them connect VBS worship at home. Consider giving children a CD when they register for VBS—then they will already know the songs when they come to VBS!
  • Some VBS programs include coloring pages for younger students and sheets that older children can take home each day to reinforce the daily theme and memory verse at home.
  • Follow up on the final day of VBS by inviting families to come back for your church worship service or Bible club or for your Harvest celebration.
Q: What schedule is best?
A: This depends on how much time you have. Most programs recommend at least three hours per day if you want to include all the activities provided, but that’s not always possible—especially if you have an evening VBS. You may need to modify the amount of time spent at each activity. Most Director’s Guides include sample schedules—modify them to suit your needs.

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